Nowadays, the technology is well within the reach of most up-market outlets, with some printers retailing for as little as $1,200 or thereabouts. What was once a luxury few could afford, let alone justify, has become a full-fledged trend, and the possibilities are limitless.
With that in mind, let's take a look at some of the more exotic uses for this type of technology and see what applications might lie in its future.
1. Sweet and Savory Food
Yes, you read that right. Some confectionary companies are taking it upon themselves to create delectable deserts the likes of which we've never seen. Hershey's recently unveiled what's been dubbed the "CocoJet," a chocolate printer that can create elaborate shapes in white, dark and milk chocolate.
And it isn't just the sugary treats that are getting the treatment. By replacing the cartridges that would ordinarily house the plastic material with interchangeable powder cartridges, NASA has developed a way to make 3D printed pizzas for astronauts.
The real question is whether or not such foodstuffs will be a welcome sight on supermarket shelves. Only time will tell.
2. Nylon Spring Swimwear
No matter what the trend is, you can be guaranteed the fashion industry will be one of the first to react. Continuum Fashion has released its ready-to-wear N12 bikini, a world's first that doesn't require any sewn connections.
This particular article of clothing is created by a "selective laser sintering" printing process that compacts the nylon without melting it, giving the material strength. In addition, the connections are waterproof and almost thread-like in appearance, making this a monumental landmark in the history of wearable swimsuits.
3. Gold-Plated Shoes
A new line of shoes from New York designer Francis Bitonti made recent waves when they launched at United Nude's flagship store on Bond Street, NY. The computer generated designs featured an elegant merging of gold-plated latticed platform heels and traditional leather.
Each pair sports a slightly different pattern due to variations in the algorithm, and this lends the product an air of individuality -- something all designers are constantly on the lookout for.
Though gold plating has been around for centuries and routinely falls in and out of style, there's no denying its ability to highlight the most interesting aspect of this new shoe line, and it's a trend that might see a strong revival over the next few coming months.
4. Bionic Hands and Assorted Prosthetics
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Kayla Matthews is an IT journalist and blogger. You can also find her work on The Huffington Post and MakeUseOf.
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